Despite playing in the era of free agency and the salary cap, one known for its parity, the New England Patriots of the 21st century have broken one record after the other. Today, with their game against the visiting Miami Dolphins coming up, the team is on the verge of setting yet another benchmark: By winning and improving their record to 9-2, the Patriots will secure their 17th straight winning season.
Entering the 2017 campaign, the defending world champions have celebrated 16 straight seasons above .500 – tied for most since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Only two other clubs in the history of the modern NFL have accomplished this: The Dallas Cowboys registered winning records each year between the 1970 and the 1985 seasons; the San Francisco 49ers did the same from 1983 to 1998.
The Patriots, who had their last non-winning season during the days of the Bill Clinton administration, could break a tie with the two teams today against the 4-6 Dolphins. The feat alone would be impressive as it is; doing it despite above-mentioned free agency and salary cap restrictions just shows how unprecedented New England's prolonged run of excellency and success is.